Food and feed business operators

Food and feed business operators

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The requirements for traceability in Article 18 of Regulation (EC 178/2002) apply to any business that trades in food and feed at all stages of the food chain (farm to market). This includes primary producers and retailers as well as all intermediary food businesses that make up a food supply chain.

The purpose of traceability

The purpose of the traceability provisions is to assist in targeted and accurate withdrawal and to give information to control officials in the event of food safety problems. The requirements apply to any business that trades in food at all stages in the food chain. This includes:

  • Primary producers
  • Wholesalers and food brokers
  • Dealers in the purchase and sale of bulk commodities
  • Transporters and distributors
  • Caterers and retailers
  • Stores
  • Cold stores

Also included are businesses importing from third countries, even though their supplier in not within the EU. The requirements do not, however, extend to suppliers in third countries. That is there is no requirement for traceability in the sections of the food chains outside the EU other than that the local regulations that may apply in these third countries.

Traceability terminology

A ‘food business’ means any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private, carrying out any of the activities related to any stage of production, processing and distribution of food.

In terms of traceability and food businesses in the food chain three key stages may be recognised, the start and end points, i.e. primary producers and retail, and the intermediary businesses.

‘Primary production means the production, rearing or growing of primary products including harvesting, milking and farmed animal production prior to slaughter. It also includes hunting and fishing and the wild harvesting of wild products.

‘Retail’ means the handling and/or processing of food and its storage at the point of sale to the final consumer, and includes distribution centres and warehouses, catering operations, factory canteens, institutional catering, restaurants and other similar food service operations, food retailers, supermarkets and wholesale outlets.

The requirements for traceability also apply to feed businesses. ‘Feed’ (or ‘feeding stuff’) means any substance or product, including additives, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, intended to be used for feeding to animals. The definition of a feed business is similar to that of a food business; that is carrying out any of the activities related to any stage of production, processing and distribution of feed. It includes primary producers producing, processing or storing feed to animals on their own farm.